Board of Directors
- Ambassador (ret.) Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., Chairman
- Elias Aburdene
- Karen AbuZayd, former UNRWA Commissioner-General
- Leila Hilal
- Elizabeth Kucinich
- Ambassador (ret.) Richard W. Murphy
- Ghassan Salameh
- George Salem
- Maggie Mitchell Salem
- Dr. Lisa Anderson
- Jean-Claude Aime
- Randa Fahmy Hudome
- Daniel Levy
- Rima Nashashibi
- Maya Sanbar
- Dr. James J. Zogby
- Mian Qadrud-Din
UNRWA USA Staff
Raised right outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, Abby’s a midwesterner with her heart in social justice and human rights for all. Since the end of 2010, Abby Smardon has served as UNRWA USA’s Executive Director, where she oversees projects to raise critical funds and awareness in the United States for UNRWA's work. She travels extensively throughout the region to facilitate and evaluate humanitarian projects to benefit refugees.
Prior to UNRWA USA, Abby worked with refugees and marginalized populations in France. She received her MA in Conflict Resolution in the Arab World at George Washington University and Sciences Po in Paris. Abby is an avid traveler having visited 34 countries, but she’s always looking for ways to visit more!
Ask Abby about: all things UNRWA, Palestine refugees, and pop culture!
A fourth generation Arab American of Lebanese and Palestinian descent, Laila was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She currently serves as UNRWA USA's Director of Communications. Prior to joining the dream team, Laila worked at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Both positions illustrate Laila’s passions: humanitarian concern for the people of Palestine and the fight for social justice.
Laila loves connecting people, ideas, things, to one another for a worthy cause! She holds a BA in Global Affairs (concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa) and a minor in music from George Mason University.
Ask Laila about: connecting, communications, social media, apps, technology, music/piano, my love for all things Spanish, or the law of attraction!
Sarah grew up in Seattle and is a Nothwesterner at heart. She moved to Washington, DC after graduating from college and established her career in nonprofit special events and fundraising, advocating on behalf of women’s health and legal services. After taking time away from the nonprofit world running her own personal chef business, she returned to fuel her passion for mission-driven work. From an early age, Sarah used her voice to advocate and organize on behalf of those whose voices are not heard.
Ask Sarah about: how to register for the Gaza 5Ks, cooking, Dolly Parton’s musical anthology and Seattle Seahawks football!
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Ruben got his start managing his family's business and Jerusalem institution -- Elia Photo Service (look it up!). He went on to work for four years covering Israel/Palestine stories for the Financial Times newspaper before relocating across the Atlantic to the United States in 2009. Since then his career has been all about numbers working for an international school in Washington DC and now as the Finance and Administrative Officer for UNRWA USA.
Ask Ruben about: life in the Old City, your donation record, how many languages he speaks, Armenian recipes, his food truck, carpentry, bike-riding, and his favorite dad jokes.
Not unfamiliar with the 'where are you really from?' question, Medhini considers herself a citizen of the world with Coloradan and Indian roots. Passionate about social justice, refugee rights, and dignity for all people, Medhini aims to contribute to a more just world through her work with UNRWA USA.
Prior to this role, Medhini worked in various humanitarian capacities with international NGOs in Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. Stateside, she has worked within the human rights/anti-terrorism practice group at Motley Rice LLC. She holds an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University and a BA in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies from Emory University, degrees that would most likely cause Edward Said to turn in his grave.
Ask Medhini about: international humanitarian/human rights law, Palestine refugees, the merits and flaws of various map projections, Lord of the Rings, and all things ice cream.